[[caption-width-right:300:Cinema's First Superstar.]]

-> ''Has there ever been another artist... who has had more to say, and in such vivid detail, about what it means to be poor? Conceivably [[Creator/CharlesDickens Dickens]], another artist often reproached for sentimentality... but surely no other figure in the 20th century. And because there is arguably no other figure in the world during Chaplin’s heyday who was more widely known and loved -- not even a politician like his arch-enemy Hitler, much less another artist--discussing him as if he were just another writer-director or actor ultimately means short-changing that world and that history.''
-->-- '''[[https://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2017/06/rediscovering-charlie-chaplin/ Jonathan Rosenbaum]]'''

[[UsefulNotes/KnightFever Sir]] Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE (April 16, 1889 -- December 25, 1977) was the first world-famous movie star, a respected movie writer, director, editor, producer and composer. He remains one of the most recognizable icons of the silver screen today.

Growing up in poverty with his brother, Sydney, with a mother who was a failed Music Hall entertainer of declining mental health, the brothers worked themselves up until Chaplin became a star stage comedian himself. On an American tour, he was hired by Keystone Studios and began starring in low budget one-reeler comedies in 1914. By the end of the year, Chaplin had starred in 35 movies, many of which he directed as well, and was known around the world. By 1916, he would work for the more prestigious Mutual Studios and would be the writer, director, star, editor, and producer of his own comedy films. In 1919, he co-founded Creator/UnitedArtists - one of the major film studios that still operates today. Chaplin would continue making entertaining and influential comedies, which experimented with more dramatic stories amid the comedy.

He is best known for the character of ''Charlot'' or ''The Tramp'', a poor, downtrodden man who nevertheless takes on life with vim and alacrity, defeating the bully/policemen/figure of authority and getting the girl before [[RidingIntoTheSunset walking into the sunset]].

Outside of films, Chaplin was quite politically active, although this never directly showed itself in his films until ''Film/TheGreatDictator''. A scathing satire of UsefulNotes/NaziGermany, the film closes off with a narrative-breaking AuthorTract delivered directly to the camera, in which Chaplin touches on many of his RealLife personal beliefs (it is incidentally widely considered to be one of the greatest speeches ever delivered). Accused of being a Communist sympathizer by the United States government during the RedScare after the end of World War II, his visa was revoked in 1952 (he was a British citizen) and he lived the remainder of his life in Europe. As a result of his political beliefs, his last American film, ''Film/{{Limelight}}'', wasn't allowed to be released until 1972, twenty years after it was actually filmed, but the fact that it was not screened in Los Angeles before then allowed it to win a competitive Oscar for best music score for that year, which gave the Oscars an excuse to also honor Chaplin with a special award in a supreme moment of "burying the hatchet".

Chaplin's film career lasted from 1914 to 1967. Some of his films include:
* ''Film/MabelsStrangePredicament'' -- his second film appearance and the debut of TheTramp
* ''Film/TilliesPuncturedRomance'' -- feature film for Creator/KeystoneStudios, directed by Mack Sennett
* ''Film/TheKnockout'' -- actually a Creator/FattyArbuckle vehicle in which Chaplin has a small part
* ''Film/TheTramp''
* ''Film/TheFloorwalker''
* ''The Fireman''
* ''Film/TheVagabond''
* ''Film/TheRink''
* ''Film/EasyStreet''
* ''Film/TheCure''
* ''Film/TheImmigrant''
* ''Film/TheAdventurer''
* ''Film/ADogsLife''
* ''Film/ShoulderArms''
* ''Film/{{Sunnyside}}''
* ''Film/TheIdleClass''
* ''[[Film/TheKid1921 The Kid]]''
* ''Film/PayDay''
* ''Film/ThePilgrim''
* ''Film/AWomanOfParis'' -- [[OddballInTheSeries a drama which he directed but did not star in]]
* ''Film/TheGoldRush''
* ''Film/TheCircus''
* ''Film/CityLights''
* ''Film/ModernTimes''
* ''Film/TheGreatDictator''
* ''Film/MonsieurVerdoux''
* ''Film/{{Limelight}}''
* ''Film/AKingInNewYork''
* '' The Chaplin Revue'' -- a CompilationMovie made up of three short films, that Chaplin made at First National: ''A Dog's Life'', ''Shoulder Arms'', and ''The Pilgrim'', along with footage from an unfinished documentary about the Chaplin Studio, called "How to Make Movies" and new scores for each film composed by Chaplin himself, including a theme for "The Pilgrim", "I'm Bound for Texas".

According to a memoir, ''My Life in Pictures'', published a year before his death, Chaplin was still planning movie projects right to the end.

Being arguably the first major film comedian, he is responsible for establishing countless comedy tropes. Many of his descendants followed him into the acting world, including his granddaughter Creator/OonaChaplin. Daughter Geraldine Chaplin actually played her own grandmother in Sir Richard Attenborough's 1992 {{Biopic}} ''Film/{{Chaplin}}'', in which the man himself is played by Creator/RobertDowneyJr in one of his best-regarded performances, though the film ends with a montage of footage of the unparalled original. He was also the uncle of Spencer Dryden, drummer of Music/JeffersonAirplane.

A particularly good documentary series is ''Unknown Chaplin'' (1983), which managed to unearth lots of rare footage of outtakes from Chaplin's Mutual two-reelers, giving a unique insight into his working methods.

He ended at #66 in ''Series/OneHundredGreatestBritons''.

TropeNamer for EatingShoes and CharlieChaplinShoutOut.

!! Tropes invoked by his films and the man himself:

* AdolfHitlarious: Poked fun at Hitler in ''Film/TheGreatDictator'', which was a bold stance to take at the time, since most countries, including the U.S.A., considered him to a politician like any other and were reluctant to offend him. Chaplin wanted to warn these people about Hitler's plans and the film was finally released when the man had already invaded Europe. Still, this didn't convince many Americans until Pearl Harbour forced them to enter war with the Axis. From that moment on ''Film/TheGreatDictator'' was seen as a visionary picture. The similarities between Hitler and Chaplin's physical appearance (tooth brush moustache) were already noticed during the 1930s. Chaplin was even born on April 16, 1889 and Hitler on April 20 of that same year! Hitler himself didn't particularly like Chaplin as he thought that the actor was Jewish (he wasn't, but was 1/4 Romanichal aka British Romani, which probably wouldn't have endeared him to the equally Romani-hating Fuhrer). ''Film/TheGreatDictator'' was banned in Nazi occupied Europe, of course, but he did watch a private copy of it, twice. Chaplin also wondered what he might have thought of it.
** Of note: while other filmmakers were horrified of the propaganda power of ''Film/TriumphOfTheWill'', Chaplin ''laughed at it''. He used the film copiously to perfect his satire.
** After the horrors of the concentration camps came to light in 1945 Chaplin was absolutely shocked, as many other people were, and said that [[HarsherInHindsight if he had known about it he would have never made a comedy about Hitler]].
** Richard Brody, [[http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/heil-hynkel the critic for the New Yorker]], nonetheless argues that Chaplin's lampoon was a dead-on parody:
--> ''What’s most important about Hitler is the fact that he is, in fact, ridiculous—and that people nonetheless adulated him as a political leader. In Chaplin’s film, Hynkel is a joke, but there’s nothing funny about the anti-Jewish pogroms he instigates.
* {{Adorkable}}: His Tramp persona in his movies.
* AmusingInjuries: Chaplin falls down a lot and kicks his opponents around.
* AuteurLicense: Chaplin got this very early in his film career. In his earliest Keystone films, Chaplin was constantly arguing with his directors like Henry Lehrmann and Creator/MabelNorman about his gags he developed to the point where he feared he was going to be fired. However, studio head Mack Sennett, upon learning how popular Chaplin's films were and impressed at how hard the British actor worked on them, eventually decided to allow him to direct his own films instead.
* BadassMoustache: A small one.
* BanisterSlide
* BittersweetEnding: Very few clear-cut happy endings in Chaplin's work.
* BrickJoke
* BucketBoobyTrap
* ButtMonkey
* CharlieChaplinShoutOut: TropeNamer.
* TheChewToy: The Tramp's role in every single movie.
* ChummyCommies: He's one of the greatest and most famous comedians of all time, brought laughs to millions, and was generally known as kind-hearted, friendly, charismatic, and an all-around decent guy. He was also completely open and completely unapologetic about being ''very'' far over on the left side of the political spectrum (to be specific, an anarcho-syndicalist).
* CouldntFindALighter: In ''Shoulder Arms'', Chaplin in the trenches of WWI holds the cigarette over the trench gets a light from a helpful enemy sniper.
* DashinglyDapperDerby
* DirtyCommunists: Was accused of being one, and eventually had to leave the country and live in Europe. He was actually an anarcho-syndicalist, which was just as bad during the RedScare.
%%* DoggedNiceGuy
* DumbMuscle: Allowing wily Charlie to defeat him.
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: In his film debut, the short film "Making a Living," Charlie appears as a con artist wearing a top hat with a drooping mustache. His iconic Tramp character debuted in Chaplin's second film, "Kid Auto Races at Venice." Perhaps more surprisingly, in his first ''feature'' film, ''Tillie's Punctured Romance'', made in late 1914 after the Tramp had become a huge breakout character, Charlie again plays a cynical con-artist type instead of the Tramp.
* EatingShoes: TropeNamer in ''Film/TheGoldRush''.
* {{Eponym}}: The word "Chaplinesque" is used to describe a melodramatic tragicomedy or "tearjerker".
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: "The Little Tramp/Charlot"
* EvilElevator: Possibly the first filmmaker to use malfunctioning mechanics such as elevators as gags.
* ExcusePlot: Chaplin made whole movies by trial and error, only using some pre-planning on his features, saying that he didn't worry about the story, knowing it would naturally grow out of the characters;
-->''"I don't care much about story—plot, as they call it. If you have the neatest tailored plot in the world and yet haven't personalities, living characters, you've nothing."''
* FiveFingerDiscount: In ''The Floorwalker'' a group of shoppers strip a display in a department store bare while the salesman is trying to run The Tramp out of the store.
* HallOfMirrors: in ''The Circus''. Maybe the earliest use of this trope?
* TheHeavy: 11 of the 12 Mutual films feature Eric Campbell as an intimidatingly large BigBad and a comic foil to the tramp's antics
* HotPursuit: The Tramp often crossing paths with the police, resulting in hilarious chase scenes (a holdover trope from Mack Sennett). Police chase scenes of note include ones from ''Film/TheKid1921'', ''Film/TheCircus'', and ''Film/ADogsLife''.
* IconicItem: His bowler hat, big shoes, toothbrush moustache and bamboo cane.
* InsultBackfire: After repeatedly being "accused" of being Jewish, he finally retorted, "I'm afraid I ''don't'' have that honor."
* InstantSeduction: In his autobiography, he mentions that a girl staying next to him flirted with him by knocking on the wall a few times. He went to meet her and within three lines, they "engaged nocturnally." Awesome.
* KickTheDog: Often the 'dog' is Charlie himself, other times a dog is literally kicked, such as in the short ''Sunnyside''.
* LiteralAssKicking: Lots of it. The Tramp in particular seems unable to let a good rump go by unkicked.
* MeatOVision: In ''Film/TheGoldRush''. An anecdote says that the extra performing in the chicken suit couldn't get The Tramp's distinctive walk just right, and eventually Chaplin had to do it himself.
* MickeyMousing: Even though his movies were silent, Chaplin would always have someone playing an instrument like the violin on the set so a tempo and rhythm for the scenes could be established, and then a separate score could be played to the film later on. Creator/JerryLewis said in an interview that he learned this method from Chaplin and applied it to his own movies.
* ANaziByAnyOtherName: ''Film/TheGreatDictator'' made a not-so-thinly veiled attack on Nazis in 1940 when not only were the Nazis still in power, but America was officially at peace with them.
* NiceHat: Just try imagining the tramp without his trademark bowler hat.
* NoEnding: If it wasn't a BittersweetEnding it was probably this.
* NoNameGiven: For almost every character in his movies.
* NonspecificallyForeign: The Tramp is seldom refered to by name, but when he is given a name in the inter-titles it's either "Charlie" or "Charlot", implying perhaps that he is intended to be French. The singing scene in ''Film/ModernTimes'', the only time the character actually "speaks" on film, sees him singing a nonsense language that sounds [[AsLongAsItSoundsForeign somewhere between Italian and French]].
* PerpetualPoverty: The Tramp, although he occasionally comes into money during the course of a movie. See [[spoiler:''Film/TheGoldRush'']].
* PintSizedPowerhouse
* PopCulturalOsmosis: Chaplin is universally recognizable to many people, even those who never saw or enjoyed one of his films. He has been a mainstay of pop culture since 1914, inspiring countless songs, comic strips, cartoons, parodies, circus clown acts, etc.
* ThePratfall: Featured in many of his works.
* PrettyBoy: Just [[http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Film/Pix/pictures/2009/3/5/1236264277446/Charlie-Chaplin-001.jpg look]] at young Chaplin!
* PrimaDonnaDirector:
** See [[http://books.google.com/books?id=DpPjHbz3FrUC&pg=PA516&dq=isn%27t+that+easy+sidney&hl=en&ei=pFrwTNeDOoaesQOVqty4Cw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false this anecdote]], from Creator/MarlonBrando of all people.
** Allegedly, the scene in ''Film/TheCircus'' in which the Tramp walks a tightrope took ''600 takes'' before Chaplin was satisfied with it.
* PropagandaMachine:
** Chaplin directed ''Film/ShoulderArms'' in 1918: a film in which he is a soldier in the trenches during UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, poking fun at the German soldiers. He made this picture to duck rumors that he didn't enlist in the British Army during UsefulNotes/WorldWarI because he was scared. By making and appearing in this film he did show some sort of engagement.
** Film/TheGreatDictator was used as a propaganda film too.
** Furthermore, Chaplin made ''The Bond'' at his own expense purely as a war bond promotion after the US entered UsefulNotes/WorldWarI.
* PublicDomainCharacter: The Tramp.
* RedOniBlueOni: Red to Creator/BusterKeaton. At least when it came to their characters.
* RidingIntoTheSunset: An ending used in many of his films as the tramp, when at the end he would be seen walking down a street into the sunset, alone or along with the female lead. Fittingly, the last of his Tramp movies, ''Film/ModernTimes'', ends this way.
* TheRival:
** Creator/BusterKeaton and Creator/HaroldLloyd during the silent era. Chaplin did work together with Keaton in ''Film/{{Limelight}}''.
** Creator/LaurelAndHardy during the talkies era. Chaplin had a specific rivalry with Stan Laurel, being that both men were part of the same music hall comedy group. While Chaplin was the star Laurel was able to imitate Charlie so perfectly that almost no-one could tell the difference. Chaplin felt quite jealous about this and after he made it big in Hollywood in 1914 he never helped Laurel out to become a star himself. When Laurel teamed up with Hardy in 1927 and became the world's most iconic comedy duo, Chaplin still didn't see why they were considered to be so funny. However, when they were sailing to their next gig, Chaplin would practice the violin so Stan could cook bacon on the ''gas ring'' and nobody would notice.
* SilenceIsGolden: Several silent film greats faded into obscurity with the arrival of talkies, but not Chaplin; he continued to make silent films (''Film/CityLights'', ''Film/ModernTimes'' which has very little dialogue) and had success with them. It would take until 1940's ''Film/TheGreatDictator'' before TheTramp would speak intelligibly (and there remains great debate as to whether the character Chaplin plays in this film is the Tramp).
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVsCynicism: Even though most of his films didn't have clear cut happy endings, there was still a sense of heartfelt optimism and human emotion in many of his movies. This shines the strongest in ''The Kid'' and ''City Lights''.
* SpeakingSimlish: Chaplin's Tramp character never spoke a word until 1936's ''Film/ModernTimes'', where he gets a job as a singer. But he's forgotten the words, so he sings complete gibberish instead. Chaplin liked the fact that silent comedy crossed all language barriers and so didn't want to limit the Tramp to one language for his only speaking scene.
* StrictlyFormula: This was Chaplin's main misgiving about his period with Mutual: he felt his films there were drifting to this trope, as he noted "Does every film have to end with a chase?"
* TheTramp: His basic character archetype.
* WalkingTheEarth: The Tramp is a real globetrotter.
* YourCostumeNeedsWork: At the height of his fame, Chaplin entered a Tramp lookalike contest in UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco and lost. He was not wearing a costume, however, and the judges probably recognized him.